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The Citi Prestige® Card is my single all around favorite credit card, as it really wins in all three major categories I think about when applying for a card. It offers a great return on everyday spend, awesome ongoing perks, and a big sign-up bonus. Some of the benefits include the following:
- A $250 annual airline credit
- A fourth night free hotel benefit
- The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit
While the card has a $450 annual fee, it’s one of the few cards which I think still makes sense for a vast majority of people reading this blog. For example, my first cardmember anniversary just passed, and I got over $4,000 of value out of the card in the first year, not accounting for the points I earned through everyday spend.
In this post I wanted to talk about one of the specific benefits of the card, which I think many value most.
The Citi Prestige $250 airline credit
The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 annual airline credit. While a few cards out there offer airline credits, none are quite as straightforward as this one. The airline credit can be used towards any purchase directly with an airline, including a revenue ticket, taxes on a mileage ticket, etc. You can use it across one purchase or multiple purchases.
I assume most people spend at least $250 per year with airlines, so just about everyone should get value out of this. Using my mental accounting, that lowers the real annual “out of pocket” on the card to $200 (the $450 annual fee, minus $250 of value for this perk).
But there’s one other thing to note about the airline credit — while the $450 annual fee is charged on a rolling cardmember year, the airline credit is offered on a calendar year (more or less). To explain that in a bit more detail:
- If you are approved for the Citi Prestige Card in June 2016, your second year’s annual fee will be due in June 2017
- The $250 airline credit is offered on the basis of a calendar year, which Citi defines as being purchases which appear on your billing statements between December and the following December
In other words, if you apply for the Citi Prestige® Card now, you’d get a $250 airline credit immediately, and then you’d get another $250 airline credit early next year, before your second year’s annual fee is due, for a total of $500 in airline credits before you pay your second year’s annual fee.
Some might say “well yeah, but then you don’t get an airline credit with your second year’s annual fee.” That’s not true. Using the above example, you’d get another $250 airline credit in January 2018, before your third year’s annual fee is due.
In other words, if you get the Citi Prestige® Card and keep it long term, you’ll have one more airline credit long term than you pay annual fees. How you do the mental accounting for that is up to you. But unless you’re illogically canceling your card, one year you’re going to get $500 in airline credits.
To provide my own experience, I activated my Citi Prestige Card last May. I used the airline credit pretty quickly, getting me a $250 statement credit.
Then I received another airline credit this January of this year.
That means I had already received a total of $500 in airline credits. The second year’s annual fee become due in May 2016.
So while I received $500 in airline credits before paying my second year’s annual fee, I’ll still get an airline credit with this annual fee, come January 2017 (before my third year’s annual fee is due).
Hopefully that makes sense, and explains why you’re actually getting $500 in airline credits with your first year’s annual fee on the Citi Prestige® Card.